The goal of Massachusetts Youth Soccer is to promote and improve the game of soccer for the children of Massachusetts. It encompasses all levels of play, from recreational leagues designed to get kids out to enjoy the game with their friends to premier leagues for athletes looking for more advanced development and competitive opportunities. Club soccer teams in Massachusetts exist within this system, and while they all have the goal of developing young soccer players, different clubs have different philosophies regarding how this is best achieved.
A quick look at the mission statements of club soccer teams in Massachusetts will show that they all cite player development as their guiding principle. Some clubs believe that this is accomplished in a highly competitive environment for all age groups. Others believe that winning is best focused on later in a playing career. Once you and your child decide which model fits best with your family’s perspective, you’ll find there’s a Massachusetts soccer club to suit your needs.
MAPLE Soccer is the Massachusetts Premier League (see Winning With MAPLE Soccer). The focus here is on high levels of competition for all age groups starting at U10. While they don’t keep standings for the youngest teams, the philosophy is that players of all ages thrive and improve in a competitive environment. All teams, regardless of affiliation, are invited to try their hand at winning and they move through the ranks based only on their record of wins and losses within the league.
The highest ranking teams within each division are given the opportunity to move up to the next division. Starting at the U14 age group, it becomes more competitive with teams vying for position in Division 1, with a chance at regional, state, and national championships. MAPLE Soccer operates on the belief that they are doing their job of developing players as long as they continue to send competitive teams and players on to these higher challenges, as well as Region 1leagues, DAP (boys), and ECNL (girls).
Mass Premier Soccer
Mass Premier Soccer (MPS) is also part of the club soccer universe in Massachusetts, and operates on a different philosophy. They view their responsibility as developing children as both players and people, on and off the field. At the younger age groups, there is much more direct focus specifically on player development, and less on competition.
Within their School of Excellence (SOE), players up to U12 are placed into different groups based on their ability and commitment, and play in their internal league against other teams at the same level. This makes Mass Premier Soccer something of a hybrid between a club and a league.
At the upper age groups, players in the Premier and Elite programs compete in the New England Premiership (NEP) and Super-Y leagues, which are designed differently than MAPLE Soccer in that teams don’t move in and out of divisions from year to year. Mass Premier Soccer believes this fosters a competitive spirit without promoting a “win at all costs” mentality. The MPS model focuses on sending players on to play professionally and in college, and has found plenty of success doing so.
Massachusetts Youth Soccer is the second largest state soccer organization in the country. As such, it has room to provide a beneficial experience to soccer players at all levels. Massachusetts club soccer teams are particularly diverse and are able to cater to all the different methodologies that comprise youth soccer in America.
The choices are there. It is simply up to each individual family to pick the one that best suits their needs.